As the British Virgin Islands premier faces drug trafficking and money laundering charges, a host of A-listers will be reconsidering their ties to the Caribbean utopia.
The acting premier of the scandal-ridden islands said he opposes a recommendation by the Queen’s personal representative that the UK takes direct control of the territory after his predecessor appeared in a US court on charges linked to drugs trafficking.
Andrew Fahie, 51, was detained in Miami on Thursday over an alleged conspiracy to import a controlled substance and money laundering in an operation led by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Director of ports Oleanvine Maynard and her son were also arrested.
The string of 56 islands inhabited by 35,000 people east of Puerto Rico is currently under a 2007 constitution giving it limited self-governance under a Governor who is the ultimate executive authority as the representative of the Queen.
An inquiry into corruption in the territory, led by retired judge Sir Gary Hickinbottom, found that the people of the British Virgin Islands have been ‘badly served’ by its government.
It also slammed ‘corruption, abuse of office, and other serious dishonesty’ under the leadership of premier Andrew Fahie.
Celebrities spotted on the islands’ white beaches include Kate Moss, Taylor Swift, Heidi Klum, the Obamas, the Queen and Princess Diana – not all at the same time.
Billionaire Richard Branson, who owns 70-acre private retreat Necker Island on the north-eastern edge of the island territory, has played host to many of them.
The British Virgin Islands were Barack and Michelle Obama‘s first port of call after leaving the White House in January 2017.
The newly ex-president was criticised for jet skiing with a broad toothy smile within days of Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.
If the images are anything to go by, he couldn’t care less.
Other celebrities who’ve enjoyed well-documented trips to the island paradise over the years include Kate Moss – who marked her 40th there – Boris Becker, Paul McCartney and Kelly Brook.
Not caring about the outside world appears to be a common feeling upon arrival at the British Virgin Islands.
Yet the Queen’s representative, Governor John Rankin, feels differently.
His withering recommendation came within hours of the disgraced premier’s appearance in a Miami courtroom via Zoom.
Fahie’s charges include conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to import cocaine.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement late Thursday that the UK was ‘appalled’ at the government of its overseas territory after Fahie’s arrest.
She said the arrests underlined the need to release the recently concluded investigation into the alleged corruption and abuse of office under the Fahie government. The report was released on Friday – a day later.
But acting premier Natalio Wheatley said he was ‘very concerned’ by the proposal, PA reported.
Mr Wheatley said: ‘What this would mean in real terms is that there would be no more elected representatives who represent the people of the districts and the territory in the House of Assembly where laws are made for our society.
‘There also would be no government ministers to advance the public’s priorities or a cabinet to approve policy. All of this authority would be vested in the Governor.
‘The benefit of representative democracy to the public is the understanding and responsiveness of their elected representatives to their challenges, who also serve as conduits of their views, especially on reforms.’